Playoff-bound Chargers might play backups against Broncos

LOS ANGELES CHARGERS (10-6) at DENVER (4-12)

Sunday, 4:25 p.m. EST, CBS

FANDUEL SPORTSBOOK NFL LINE: Broncos by 2 1/2.

AGAINST THE SPREAD: Chargers 10-5-1, Broncos 7-9.

SERIES RECORD: Broncos lead 70-55-1.

LAST MEETING: Chargers beat Broncos 19-16 in overtime on Oct. 17, 2022, at SoFi Stadium in Los Angeles.

LAST WEEK: Chargers beat Rams 31-10; Broncos lost to Chiefs 27-24.

CHARGERS OFFENSE: OVERALL (9), RUSH (30), PASS (4), SCORING (13)

CHARGERS DEFENSE: OVERALL (27), RUSH (27), PASS (6), SCORING (T18)

BRONCOS OFFENSE: OVERALL (24), RUSH (22), PASS (19), SCORING (32).

BRONCOS DEFENSE: OVERALL (5), RUSH (12), PASS (12), SCORING (10).

TURNOVER DIFFERENTIAL: Chargers plus-5, Broncos minus-1.

CHARGERS PLAYER TO WATCH: RB Austin Ekeler. The sixth-year back, who grew up in Colorado, needs two touchdowns to become the first player since the 2006 season to have at least 20 scrimmage touchdowns in consecutive seasons.

BRONCOS PLAYER TO WATCH: QB Russell Wilson. He finally looked like his vintage self last week against Kansas City in interim head coach Jerry Rosburg's debut and with OC Justin Outten calling the plays and QBs coach Klint Kubiak on the sideline and in his ear the entire game.

KEY MATCHUP: Broncos WR Jerry Jeudy, who's enjoying a late-season surge, against the Chargers secondary.

KEY INJURIES: Chargers S Derwin James is likely to return after missing last week’s game because of a concussion. The Broncos placed RB Marlon Mack (hamstring) and LG Dalton Risner (elbow) on IR this week.

SERIES NOTES: The old AFL rivals have only met one time in the playoffs, a 24-17 Denver win on Jan. 12, 2014. Both franchises have been also-rans during the Kansas City Chiefs' seven-year reign as AFC West champions. But the Chargers are going back to the playoffs for the first time since 2018 while the Broncos still haven't made it back to the postseason party since winning Super Bowl 50 on Feb. 7, 2016.

STATS AND STUFF: Chargers coach Brandon Staley is a former Broncos assistant. He is 2-1 against Denver. ... Los Angeles has five players that have at least 500 receiving yards. WR DeAndre Carter is 5 yards from joining the group and making them the second team in NFL history to have six players top 500 receiving yards in a season. ... QB Justin Herbert is third in the league with 4,466 passing yards. He needs 20 completions to break Drew Bledsoe’s record (1,310) for completed passes before age 25. ... WR Keenan Allen has 52 receptions in his seven games since returning from a hamstring injury that caused him to miss seven of the first nine games. ... LB Khalil Mack has had a sack in his past four games against Denver. ... LB Kyle Van Noy has had a sack in a career-high four straight games. ... Over the past five weeks, the Chargers defense has allowed just 24.5% conversions on third down, the best rate in the NFL. The team’s 13 third down conversions allowed also lead the league over that span. ... The Broncos are trying to avoid a franchise-record 13th loss Sunday. ... The Broncos have an NFL-high 23 players on IR, representing $68 million in salary and almost one-third of their cap space. ... QB Russell Wilson has thrown a career-low 13 TD passes this season with a career-worst 53 sacks. He's coming off his third career game with two rushing touchdowns. ... Wilson has five TDs and one INT in three starts against the Chargers. ... RB Latavius Murray is the league's only RB to top 500 yards rushing and four TDs in each of past eight seasons. ... WR Jerry Jeudy has had at least six catches in each of his past five games and has a career-best 62 receptions this season. ... TE Albert Okwuegbunam had his first TD catch of the season last week. ... S Justin Simmons has a career-best six interceptions, tied for the NFL lead. He's the only player in the NFL with five or more interceptions in each of the past three seasons. ... LB Alex Singleton set his career high with 21 tackles against the Chargers in Week 6. ... LB Josey Jewell has had at least seven tackles in each of the 12 games he's played this season.

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